After growing up in an environment where I heard the name of Jesus, attended church occasionally, and even claimed to be a Christian, it still was not until I was 18 years old that I truly experienced a relationship with our Savior and understood what it meant to be loved endlessly by the Creator of the universe. My journey in following Jesus’ will for my life rather than my own has brought me to a program called the Pittsburgh Fellows, a young professional development program for recent college graduates that focuses on creating faith-based, servant leadership within our beautiful city of Pittsburgh. My involvement with the program began with several interviews within the nonprofit sector, but none of the organizations really fueled my passion for helping women and fighting for justice, or my desire to be mentored by a humble yet remarkable leader.
Anglicans for Life changed all of that. As soon as I walked in the door to our office and shook Georgette’s hand, I knew that this woman was someone who would challenge me to develop myself professionally and encourage me to grow personally. I am now serving as the coordinator at AFL, where my primary job is to serve, connect, and provide churches with resources to protect the sanctity of life and provide healing to members of their community.
I am pro-life and pro-woman simply because women deserve better than what abortion brings them: emotional trauma, spiritual doubt and warfare, and physical and mental harm they must struggle with for the rest of their lives. Women deserve better. They deserve to be nurtured, to be protected, to be empathized with, to be empowered, and to be set free. Women were never created to be depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed, or unworthy. We were created to be victorious over the things that should realistically crush us.
Georgette invited me to attend the ACNA Provincial Assembly with her in Wheaton, Illinois before I even had my first day at the office. Can you say “intimidating”? Of course, despite any fear I may have had, I said “yes” automatically. I’ve learned that I need to take the opportunities that are placed before me, no matter the discomfort, because being stretched allows for the highest potential for growth. Going into the trip, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had little to no knowledge of the Anglican Church or its leadership. I had no face-to-face connections. I was quickly immersed in the Assembly and was pleasantly surprised to find the heart of who Jesus is in the Anglican Church. God was faithful, even in the unknown pasture that I was walking through.
At the Assembly, I had the pleasure of hearing Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia speak about what we as Christians are called to do. My perspective was even more transformed by seeing the partnership that Archbishop Foley Beach and Pastor Louie had kept since their college years. The two men have a common goal of serving people, in the name of Jesus. Their different views on liturgy and teaching has never been and will never be the forefront of their conversation, but their common goal of sharing the Gospel was and remains the basis of their respect and friendship.
I adore this quote from Pastor Louie, and it will shape the rest of my thoughts in this post: “Simply by our proximity to Jesus, we can bring hope and life to people and places trapped in discouragement and despair.”
At the Assembly, I had many life-giving conversations with passionate, devoted volunteers who have committed themselves to fighting alongside of AFL to uphold God’s word within our churches. I was blessed, as I know the rest of our staff was, to hear that our ministry is being cried out for loudly, but also silently, within churches.
What I realized when Pastor Louie was speaking was that even though Jesus already won the battle, we are still in it. There is no back-up plan for Jesus to reach the people of this world. Think about it. Jesus won, as He always will. Satan fell, as he always will. But our world is still fallen. We are still in battle. Jesus saved us, but we are commanded to take His word into all the earth, speak the truth, and allow the Holy Spirit to use us, for the things that break His heart. When we become closer to Him, we learn who He is. We learn about His character, His heart for those that are suffering from guilt, shame, persecution, and disconnection. When we know and understand Jesus, our perspective will shift.
I came back from the Assembly with a deeper desire to fight for all those affected by life issues and the choices that go along with them; that deeper desire came from really leaning into what God says about them. I urge you, Church, to take up your crosses and get into the battle for life. Get into the battle of delivering healing to members of your congregation that are desperately waiting for someone, anyone, to offer them a resource for the hurt they have shoved down inside of their souls. Get into the battle and offer words of affirmation. Get into the battle and give life through Jesus, just as we are given the same life through Him. I am looking forward to the day in which we stand at the feet of the Lord and reap the reward we are promised for glorifying Him (Galatians 6:9).
by Sammie Franks, AFL Coordinator